National Hockey League
Panthers-Senators Preview
National Hockey League

Panthers-Senators Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 1:08 a.m. ET

There isn't much else to accomplish in this record-setting regular season, but the Florida Panthers don't sound like a team that's going to lie down over the final two games.

Following a subdued observance of its first division title in four years, Florida looks to stay sharp with a fifth consecutive victory when it visits the Senators on Thursday night.

The Panthers secured home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and set a club record for points with Monday's 4-3 win at Toronto.

They then wrapped up their second division title and first since 2011-12 on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory at Montreal and Tampa Bay's 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.


"We didn't have champagne or anything, but I don't think we really need champagne for that," center Nick Bjugstad told the team's official website. "We've come a long way the last couple of years, so definitely a proud group of guys and keep rolling."

Despite having nothing left to play for in the final two contests, Florida (46-25-9) can extend its longest road winning streak in three months to five and add to a 10-4-0 stretch.

The Panthers have averaged 3.66 goals over their last 15 after scoring 2.63 per game before that stretch. Jonathan Huberdeau has six goals and four assists and Aleksander Barkov five and six in seven-game point streaks.

They should have a good chance to extend those runs against an Ottawa team that ranks near the bottom of the NHL with 2.99 goals allowed per game.

"We're happy that we're able to accomplish what we did, but at the same time we know that the real season begins next week," Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo said.

The Senators, who will miss the postseason for the second time in three years, couldn't hold a three-goal lead Tuesday in their second straight loss, 5-3 to visiting Pittsburgh.

Already without a number of veterans, Ottawa (36-35-9) lost Bobby Ryan to a lower-body injury in the second period. Coach Dave Cameron said he's day-to-day.

''The way our season has gone is a tough pill to swallow,'' goalie Andrew Hammond said. ''It never gets easier. It feels the same way it did Game 50 or Game 10. It's just not fun."

Craig Anderson will be back in net after Hammond surrendered four goals on 27 shots. Anderson has a 3.23 goals-against average in his last 10 starts.

Florida roughed him up March 10 for its third win in four meetings, 6-2 at the BB&T Center. Jaromir Jagr had two goals and Vincent Trocheck added one with three assists.

Trocheck, however, is out for the final two games with a foot injury and defenseman Erik Gudbranson could miss his second straight due to an upper-body injury.

Luongo is expected to get the nod after posting a 1.26 goals-against average in winning his last four road starts. He's gone 11-3-0 with a 1.84 mark in his past 14 overall against Ottawa.

Erik Karlsson has three goals and four assists in his last seven games for the Senators. He's recorded three goals and eight assists in 11 career home meetings with Florida.


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